It is a common place to resort to charisma as one of the defining qualities of those who exercise leadership, perhaps because of the extraordinary aura that we suppose the person in question radiates, a kind of magnet that powerfully and inexorably attracts ordinary people devoid of that gift.
I do not come to deny that some people have certain innate characteristics that favor the ability to lead, but I am inclined to think that this predisposition is not enough to meet the profile that is expected today of someone who assumes the responsibility of leading a group. of people. Although this subject has been written to bore you, allow me to point out the three qualities that, in my opinion, must accompany the person who puts himself (or is put) in charge of a team.
In the first place, those who lead must inspire us to be better people, because everything is not worth it. There are moral principles of respect and consideration for others. The really important thing is how we act and why. The distinguished Jorge Luis Borges wrote that «All theories are legitimate and none is important. What matters is what you do with them.”
On the other hand, leadership requires focusing on the people who make up its area of action, since it considers the professional growth of each member of its work team to be an inalienable objective. Hence the need for people management to act with humility and generosity, since not only does it have to recognize talent, it also has to feel happy to contribute to its emergence. The fear of being overshadowed is invalidating to develop a healthy, effective and transformative leadership.
Thirdly, the leader always motivates, even when he censors a behavior, because he does not intend to emotionally bring down his collaborators, but rather to get them to reach their best version.
No one earns respect through harassment and mistreatment, since authority is based on recognition and mutual consideration. If we need to resort to fear to impose ourselves, we will have demonstrated our manifest inability to build a high-performance team.
If you accept these principles, you will agree with me that charisma is not relevant, since it does not ensure an ethical use of leadership. I think it is unnecessary to remember disastrous figures considered as charismatic as perverse in the history of humanity.
And it is that there is an unavoidable difference between influencing and manipulating, no matter how much there are those who self-interestedly confuse the terms to evade the human values that must support the decisions and actions of the leader.
Note that when manipulating I think about my interests and disregard the will and convenience of the other; on the contrary, influencing is legitimate, it is making the other person see the common benefit, the positive purpose behind what we do. The problems and challenges that we encounter along the way take on meaning when we make decisions about them, because, as the teacher Viktor Frankl showed us, it is the decisions and not the conditions that determine who we are.
I am nobody to advise, but I have no doubts: between the leadership of figures such as Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi, Marie Curie or Nelson Mandela, and charismatic demons who have poured out their hatred and incited the most execrables of the human being, I prefer the exemplary, ethical and inspiring conduct of the first group. And you?
Salvador Martínez, consultant in business organization, cultural change and people.